Be ‘Weather Aware’ Friday & Saturday

Suspect guilty of multiple crimes tied to violent robbery of Independence man that led to officer getting shot

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- On Wednesday a judge found a metro man guilty of a series of crimes in relation to a shooting that severely injured an Independence Police officer. Joseph Wyatt is guilty of robbery, burglary, assault, kidnapping, resisting arrest, tampering with a motor vehicle, attempted robbery and armed criminal action.

The only count Wyatt wasn't convicted on was assault leading to the serious physical injury of a special victim. Shots were fired when police responded to a robbery, Officer Tom Wagstaff suffered a serious brain injury, but survived.

Sentencing is on February 25, Wyatt remains in the Jackson County jail.

The March 2017 robbery also left an 82-year-old severely beaten.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker's opening statement described it as a "pretty simple but very dramatic case of greed versus service and sacrifice."

Back in March 2017, a now 83-year-old Don Fowler testified he was sitting at his home computer, looking at stocks. Two young men, one later identified as Wyatt, came knocking on his door. They offered to clean his gutters, then mentioned a lost dog and ended up leaving.

Minutes later, Fowler said they came back, ultimately forcing their way into his home, shoving him into a glass sliding door and repeatedly beating him and threatening to "blow his head off."

They made repeated demands to access his safe, but he refused to give them the code. They zip tied his hands and stole a stack of cash and a gun. Eventually, when police started to arrive, the suspects demanded Fowler's car keys.

Police say the men got into Fowler's SUV and backed out through the garage. Fowler said he then heard gunshots. Police took him to the ground until they learned he was the victim and got him to the hospital.

Officer Tom Wagstaff

During the chaos, Officer Wagstaff was shot.

Several police officers from Kansas City and Independence took the stand Tuesday.

Independence officers testified there was commotion inside the home when they got there. As the suspects drove through the garage, officers fired at the vehicle, hitting one of the tires. The pair kept going and crashed the stolen SUV.

Wyatt got out and took off running, police said. Officers rammed Wyatt with a cruiser and ran over him. Wyatt allegedly ran with a gun and tried to carjack another driver, but he and the second suspect were both arrested.

Two detectives and a crime scene tech also testified Tuesday morning about the ordeal. Wagstaff's wife sat in the front row, emotional at times listening to the testimony with an Independence officer at her side.